Why You Should Vary Your Running Terrain

Because Races Aren't Run on Treadmills

Downhill Repeats

Many can overlook just how taxing a lot of downhills on your racecourse can be. If your race has a significant amount of downhills (hello, Boston Marathon!), be sure to get used to running on the decline; your quads will be working even if you don't "feel it" right away. You can include some downhill repeats in your training; just be careful not to get injured because downhill running does increase the forceful pounding of running.

More: Downhill Running Demystified

Proper Hill Running Form

Running hills makes it even more important to have good form. When running uphill, maintain the same effort that you would on a flat road, but decrease your stride length. When running downhill, make sure that you're not tensing up and causing yourself to "brake." Rather, relax and let the momentum of the decline help do some of the work for you.

More: 4 Expert Hill Running Tips

Increase Terrain Diversity With Trail Running

Trail running is about as diverse as running can get: twists, turns, awkward foot-plants aplenty. You need to be sure your ankles and feet are used to landing in various positions. The way to do that is, well, running on trails, taking turns, and including mobility work outside of running.

More: How to Reap the Rewards of Trail Running

Prevent Injury By Increasing Core Strength and Mobility

To reduce your risk of injury when running, you need to have a strong core, be flexible, and have as much range of motion as possible. Schedule time for strength training, dynamic stretching and drills; not only will it help safeguard you against injuries, but it will also improve your running performance.

More: 5 Core Exercises That Increase Stability and Running Efficiency

Tips for Racing on Roads and Tracks

Run the Tangents

Some math logic here, but running longer adds more time to your race results. Road races are measured off of the shortest possible marked distance, so look for those tangents, and don't run wider around turns than you have to. On the track, unless you're going to be boxed in, do your best not to wander needlessly into outer lanes.

Draft Off Other Runners

Even on the calmest of days, drafting makes a difference. Mentally it's much "easier" to sit behind someone else and let him do the work. If it's especially windy, find a body and tuck in behind it.

How to Cope With Weather Conditions

The conditions of race day can make a huge difference in your performance; not only should you take these into consideration for your race-day pacing goals, but you should also train in the same kind of conditions. For cold races, be extra certain you do a full warm-up to make sure your muscles are warm and ready to hit those faster paces.

More: A Better Pre-Run Warm-Up: 5 Moves in 20 Minutes

Until the day that all races are held on treadmills, runners should mix up the terrain of their workouts and runs. By tailoring your training to your specific racecourse, you'll set yourself up for even better results. And hey, who doesn't want to run that much faster and have a bit of an edge over their competition?

More: Beat the Competition at Your Next Race With Fartlek Workouts

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